Writer’s Desk with Valerie Fentress
Valerie Fentress writes children’s books hoping to communicate biblical truths through simple stories. She is the author of Beneath the Hood, and an avid blogger. Valerie lives in Texas with her husband and three boys, who challenge her daily to find joy between imagination and chaos. You can connect with Valerie on her website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and sign up for her newsletter.
Q&A with Valerie Fentress
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
VF: According to my husband I’m boring because I like to go to musicals, operas, historical sites, and museums of all kinds. As a birthday present one year, I wanted to take my family to a nearby Creation Museum, and it was one of my favorite birthdays.
TG: Where did you get the inspiration for An Easter Bunny’s Tale?
VF: When my boys were young, and just starting to recognize holiday traditions, my husband and I discussed whether or not the Easter Bunny would be a part of our celebration. We chose no since the bunny didn’t really represent anything biblical. But my kids loved all the easter bunny things, so a question of how to use the easter bunny to point to Christ wedged itself into my head. That was over ten years ago, and the story has grown and changed a lot since then. This Easter season I am so thrilled this story can be used to communicate the gospel to kids.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
VF: My biggest encouragement is to set a daily word count goal and stick to it. Start off with a small word count, mine is 500. I rarely ever do less, but I often exceed the goal, which is empowering. Being consistent is something my ADHD brain struggles with, so making small attainable goals helps me feel successful. Also surrounding yourself with other writers, either in a critique group or writers group, is so valuable and encouraging.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
VF: Currently I am off coffee, to work on some health goals, so water is what fills my cup most days. Snack-wise, there is usually a small bowl of cranberries and mixed nuts nearby.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
VF: The best way I’ve found to overcome writer’s block is to change my creative output. If writing is a struggle, I pull out some colored pencils or paints and try to express myself in another creative way. Sometimes I try to draw something from the current work in progress, but when I leave the project completely for a day or two that’s when an idea will hit and get me back on track.
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
VF: I usually wait till the end, unless the annoying red or blue lines pop up while I’m writing. Those correcting lines are very distracting. I also wait till the end so I can read the whole thing out loud to my boys. They are the best test audience most of the time.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
VF: To not seek outside help. The more eyes you can get on the project the better the outcome will be. There is a lot of fear of ideas being stolen, but I’ve found such joy in sharing my work with my writing community. I’ve become a better writer because of them.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
VF: Always keep learning and studying your craft. Learning is a bit of an addiction for me, hence why the ‘my to read’ shelf is always packed with books. There is always something to be learning in the writing and publishing world. Taking classes and reading up on those subjects don’t always change how I’m writing, but they give me pause to think through my writing process and if there is a better way to approach it. I think that is how good writers become great writers because they are always trying to improve on what they have done before.
TG: What is coming up next for you?
VF: For right now I’m working on prepping for next year’s blogs, as well as lining up interviews for my Again and Again Book Reviews, which is keeping me busy over at my blog. I have a couple of projects in the wings that should be out in 2023. My newsletter is the best place to keep tabs on what’s coming up.
TG: What book(s) are you currently reading?
VF: I just finished Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan, and my 10-year-old has been begging me to read Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis, so I think that is next. As well as Sally Clarkson’s 10 Gifts of the Heart and the 40 Day Sugar Fast by Wendy Speake. Like I said, I love learning.
TG: What is your favorite place on earth?
VF: It’s a tie between Prague and Budapest. I traveled there after high school and was just mesmerized by the history, architecture, and culture. Like my husband says I’m ‘boring’.
TG: Cats or dogs?
VF: Dogs, please! Besides being allergic to cats, and my first job at a Vet’s office was to clean litter boxes, I definitely prefer dogs. I even trained a service dog in college. There’s a saying floating around the web that explains why dogs don’t live as long as humans. It says that dogs live short lives because they are born knowing how to love, and we live longer because we have to learn how to love.
TG: What is one thing you can’t live without?
VF: My croc flip-flops. I don’t have the best feet. While I’d love to walk around barefoot all the time, my feet don’t like that. So, croc flip-flops are the best of both worlds. Plus they protect me from my kids’ lego minefields.
TG: What is the best song to blast when you need to be pumped up?
VF: Happy Dance by Mercy Me is a quick way to turn a frown upside down at our house, or Rock what you Got by Superchick is a way to remind myself I can do hard things.
TG: If you could time travel to any point in history when would it be, and who would you be hanging out with?
VF: Oh there are so, so, so many places, people, and times I’d want to go. This is a hard question for a history buff. If I had to pick just one I’d say the renaissance, and I’d want to hang out with Michelangelo while he’s painting the Sistine Chapel. The scale, talent, and biblical depictions are so amazing, that I’d love to ask him a few questions.
TG: If you weren’t a writer, what job would you have?
VF: I really have no idea. Before writing and motherhood, I was in cancer research, and I’ve had opportunities to be a teacher, nurse, in retail, and many others. In all of those, I’d be writing on my lunch break. So I think I’m finally settling into where God wants me to be.
TG: Who is your dream co-author?
VF: This question is almost as bad as the time travel one. Children’s Book wise, Tama Fortner, I love her books and the way they communicate biblical truth in such powerful and simplistic ways. If I were to write a full-length novel, it would have to be Ted Dekker. He has such a masterful way to communicate the gospel in ways that appeal to a very broad audience.
More about An Easter Bunny’s Tale
Who is the Easter Bunny?
Let him tell you the tale of how everything has changed, even himself.
Follow a little rabbit, as he discovers a familiar voice in a garden one night. The man is God in the flesh, of this he is sure, and he cannot help but follow Him, as He is captured and put on trial.
The little rabbit is confused at what he sees, but as he hides and waits he discovers true transformation. Now he can’t wait to tell you and his friends about the good news he has found.
Will you help to share his tale?
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